Posts Tagged ‘Government’
Posted by telcobizpedia on August 26, 2009
26 Aug 2009, 0044 hrs IST, Kalyan Parbat & Joji Thomas Philip, ET Bureau at http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/DoT-proposes-tax-breaks-for-3G-winners/articleshow/4934677.cms.
KOLKATA: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will ask the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on 3G-spectrum auction, headed by Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, to consider a proposal under which successful bidders of pan-India 3G spectrum can enjoy tax benefits applicable under section 80-1A of the Income Tax Act.
The DoT’s rationale is that the 3G mobile broadband should be treated as a distinct infrastructure service and not continuity of telecom operations, especially in case of 2G service providers pitching for a pan-India 3G licence. The DoT will place the proposal during the second meeting of the EGoM scheduled for Thursday.
The proposal for tax benefits applicable under section 80-1A of the Income Tax Act is part of an internal note prepared by DoT that will be circulated to EGoM members, a senior DoT official told ET.
Currently, only telecom companies that kicked off operations between April 1, 1995 and March 31, 2000 enjoy income tax breaks under section 80-1A. If the EGoM were to accept the DoT proposal, it would imply that 3G operations of telecom companies will enjoy income tax breaks on 100% of their profits for initial five years. In the next five years, these telcos will enjoy a 30% tax break on their profits.
The DoT note to the EGoM also adds that Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is of the view that it cannot spare any further airwaves for WiMax services. As reported by ET earlier this month, ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair had said that the Department of Space (DoS) has already parted with 40 MHz of airwaves for WiMax services in the 2.5 GHz band.
He said any interference from the WiMax services offered in this band in the future could “severely affect the very sensitive satellite services in the adjacent band”. Mr Nair had also added the DoS is now left with only 150 MHz of airwaves in the 2.5 GHz band, the bare minimum requirement for satellite services.
The DoT note to the EGoM was prepared by its joint secretary (T) and consists of demands from the industry, especially those of CDMA-based operators, and includes the views of the DoS on WiMax spectrum.
The EGoM is slated to settle all outstanding issues associated with the auction of 3G airwaves, vital for high-end services such as high-speed internet and video conferencing on mobiles.
It will take a final call on the reserve price for 3G and WiMAX spectrums and decide on the number of players to be allowed to offer these high-end services in each circle.
It is also learnt that the EGoM may also debate whether the government at all has the right to urge successful bidders of 3G spectrum to shell out an extra Rs 1,600 crore-plus for a separate pan-India UAS licence, especially when DoT knows only too well that there is no extra 4.4 MHz 2G spectrum available to bundle with new licences.
“At a time when the DoT’s wireless planning cell is well aware that it won’t be able to meet future 2G spectrum obligation for new UASL licencees, why should they be asked to shell out an extra Rs 1,600 crore plus full complement of the licence fees. While nothing has been finalised yet, a successful bidder of 3G spectrum, alternately, may also be asked to shell out a lower sum for a pure vanilla UASL without the bundled spectrum,” said a government official familiar with the matter.
Indications are that a section of E-GoM members are loathe to the idea of fixing the number of slots for 3G services to a maximum five (including BSNL) per service area. “Considering that, there are as many 11 to 9 slots available in some circles like Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, the E-GoM is likely to debate the rationale of uniformly restricting the number of slots (per circle) for delivery of 3G services. There is a feeling in the finance ministry that such restriction can tantamount to a loss of potential revenue for the government,” said a DoT official close to the developments.
Posted in BSNL, Government, Govt Financials, Internet, Spectrum, Statutory And Regulatory | Tagged: 2G, 3G, Broadband, BSNL, CDMA, DoS, DoT, G Madhavan Nair, Government, ISRO, license, minister, mobile, Pranab Mukherjee, Spectrum, UAS, WiMAX | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on August 25, 2009
On 25 Aug 2009, 0720 hrs IST, ET Bureau at http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Mittal-MTN-chief-meet-Pranab-Khurshid-to-discuss-merger/articleshow/4931103.cms
NEW DELHI: Bharti group chairman Sunil Mittal and South African company MTN’s chief executive Phuthuma Nhleko met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and minister of state for corporate affairs Salman Khurshid on Monday, triggering speculation about the motive for the meeting days after the merger partners extended exclusive talks for their proposed $23-billion deal.
The meeting with the finance minister comes just three days after both the telcos extended their exclusive merger talks by another month to September-end.
Mr Khurshid said the meeting was just a courtesy call by the honchos to appraise the ministry on the merger talks. Terming the proposed deal as a very big opportunity for the country, he said: “They are in touch with the regulators and the finance ministry. Our (ministry of corporate affairs) role comes at a later stage.”
The nature of the discussions with Mr Mukherjee was not disclosed and both Mr Mittal and Mr Nhleko could not be contacted on this issue. Mr Mukherjee was not available for comments. Officials at the ministry, too, declined to disclose the agenda for the meeting.
The largest telcos in India and Africa have been involved in exclusive talks for close to three months to create the world’s third-largest communications firm. The deal’s contours present a complex structure in which both firms would pay cash and equity for stakes in each other. If the deal goes through, Bharti Airtel will get 49% in MTN and the South African telco and its shareholders will get 36% economic interest in Bharti.
Industry analysts say the most probable reason for the highest ranking executives from both the companies meeting the finance minister could be related to the country’s foreign investment cap of 74% in telecom firms. It is also possible that Mr Mittal and Mr Nhleko could have updated the finance minister on the talks between the companies.
The new FDI norms consider a company Indian if Indian promoters hold a majority stake in it and the investments made by such companies in any joint venture or downstream venture will be treated as Indian.
Bharti Airtel, which had close to 70% foreign equity as per the old guidelines, has only about 43% FDI under the new norms. This is because a significant part of the Singapore-based telco SingTel’s 31% holding in the company as well as Vodafone’s entire holdings are routed through majority-owned Indian companies. Even after the deal, the emerging entity will, therefore, have FDI within the prescribed limit.
Despite this, approval from Indian regulators and the government may still turn out to be a tricky issue. RBI has asked the department of economic affairs under the finance ministry to review the new FDI guidelines. Any changes in the FDI norms could force both the companies to restructure the deal. Besides, the foreign investment promotion board, the apex body that clears foreign investments, has not cleared any proposals so far under the new norms due to opposition from the finance ministry.
Analysts, therefore, speculate that the honchos may have sought clarity from Mr Mukherjee regarding the government’s position on the new FDI norms. They feel that the meeting with Mr Khurshid could be related to Bharti’s plans to issue GDRs to MTN shareholders.
The Indian telco’s equity expansion will only be in the form of GDRs that will be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. This means, MTN’s proposed 36% holding in Bharti Airtel — 25% with the company and the rest with its shareholders — would be in the form of GDRs listed on JSE.
All regulations related to GDRs are governed by the ministry of corporate affairs. Post the deal, both the telcos will have to get a formal approval from markets regulator Sebi, exempting the South African firm from making an open offer for an additional 20% in the Indian company.
Posted in Bharti Airtel, Government, Govt Financials, Mergers, Statutory And Regulatory | Tagged: Bhart Airtel, Government, ministry, MTN, Phuthuma Nhleko, Pranab Mukherjee, Salman Khurshid, shareholding, subscribers, Sunil Mittal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on August 24, 2009
NEW DELHI — Bharti Airtel Ltd. Chairman Sunil Mittal and MTN Group Ltd. Chief Executive Phuthuma Nhleko met Monday with India’s federal Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the two companies strive to come closer to a deal to combine.
The meeting comes as Bharti, India’s biggest wireless operator by subscribers, and South Africa’s MTN last week extended their merger talks for the second time to Sept. 30.
The agenda of the meeting with the finance minister wasn’t disclosed, and Messrs. Mittal and Nhleko declined to comment when approached by Dow Jones Newswires after the meeting.
Finance ministry officials also declined to comment on the minister’s talks with Bharti and MTN executives.
Bharti and MTN have been in talks for more than two months on a complex cash and share swap, which they say would be a $23 billion merger.
On Friday, Mr. Mittal told Dow Jones Newswires the second extension to talks with MTN signals that a deal may be worked out this time around. But people familiar with the matter said there are still differences on pricing and the makeup of the combined entity’s board.
Some analysts speculate that the companies’ meeting with the finance minister could be related to foreign ownership laws for telecom firms in India. A foreign company isn’t allowed to own more than 74% in local telecommunications operators.
The basic terms announced in May would see Bharti accumulate a 49% stake in MTN, buying a stake directly for cash and newly issued global depositary receipts, plus receiving MTN shares as part of a swap. MTN would buy a 25% stake in Bharti for $2.9 billion in cash plus new shares, while stock received by its shareholders would take its stake in Bharti to about 36%.
Bharti is 30%-owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.
Posted in Bharti Airtel, Government, Joint Venture | Tagged: Bharti Airtel, Government, MTN, Phuthuma Nhleko, shareholding, Sunil Mittal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 19, 2009
via The Hindu Business Line : I&B Ministry moots five-year tax break for digital TV services on June 19, 2009
New Delhi, June 18 The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has suggested a five-year tax holiday for those offering digital television services.
The Minister, Ms Ambika Soni, met the Minister of Finance, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, with the I&B’s budget proposals.
The Ministry is suggesting the tax holiday for digital cable, direct to home, satellite-based cable Headend in the Sky (HITS) and similar service providers distributing digital content. They could be taxed for 30 per cent of their profits for the following five assessment years in a block of 15 years, suggest the Ministry.
The Ministry has also asked for the fringe benefit tax (FBT), currently at 20 per cent, to be reduced to five per cent for both print and electronic media, and an exemption from FBT for the film industry.
Service tax of around, 12 per cent, applicable on advertising revenue of television broadcasters should also be exempt,
Ms Soni told Mr Mukherjee, bringing them at par with the print media which enjoys this exemption.
For newspapers, the I&B Ministry would like the government to waive the levy of service tax on road and rail haulage for imported newsprint.
Ms Soni has also asked service tax, entertainment tax and value added tax to be replaced by unified single Goods and Servi
Posted in DTH, Govt Financials, Statutory And Regulatory | Tagged: DTH, Government | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 18, 2009
18 Jun 2009, 0124 hrs IST, Rashmi Pratap, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, said that its direct-to-home (DTH) venture, Bharti Telemedia does not require the approval of the Foreign Investment Board (FIPB), as the investment has come from Bharti Airtel’s internal accruals.
Responding to questions raised by FIPB regarding foreign investments in Bharti Telemedia, the company said there is no cash flow or investment from any foreign entity into Telemedia either directly or through Airtel.
In a letter to FIPB, Telemedia said FDI investment into Airtel has been in accordance with the norms and cap in the telecom sector and duly approved by FIPB. “Further, there is no FDI investor who has invested in Airtel specifically for downstream investment in the DTH sector. Accordingly, Bharti Telemedia did not apply for FIPB approval as it was not seeking fresh FDI or overseas investment,” it added.
This communication has come in response to a query from FIPB, which said approval for Bharti’s DTH services was “subject to compounding” (confirmation) by the Reserve Bank of India. Bharti said that “compounding” was not applicable in this case as only Indian money has been invested in Telemedia and no foreign money was routed to the company.
The government had earlier said the shareholding structure provided by Bharti Telemedia did not have FIPB approval and this was not in accordance with existing FDI policy. Last year, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry had also raised questions about Bharti Telemedia not having FIPB approval for foreign investments coming into it on a pro-rata basis through investing firms, including Airtel.
According to the FDI guidelines for DTH, total foreign equity holding in a company should not exceed 49% and the FDI component within the foreign equity should not exceed 20%. Airtel has 40% stake in Bharti Telemedia, while the remaining is held by an “Indian company of the Bharti group”, a Bharti spokesperson said.
Bharti also pointed out to FIPB that under the revised FDI policy, as per Press Notes 2 and 4, announced in February this year, Airtel qualifies as a company “owned and controlled” by resident Indians and there is no indirect FDI into Telemedia through Airtel.
Under the revised Press Notes, a company is considered Indian if Indian promoters have a stake of at least 51%. Moreover, the investments made by such companies in any joint venture or downstream venture will be treated as Indian. Since a major part of SingTel’s 31% stake and Vodafone’s over 4% share in Airtel is routed through majority-owned Indian companies, Airtel is owned and controlled by Indians.
Airtel launched its DTH services in October last year. It competes with Tata Sky, Reliance Communications’ Big TV, Zee’s Dish TV and Sun Direct in this segment. The company hasn’t yet started disclosing revenues from DTH services separately. “We will start disclosing the operational and financial performance of DTH operations next year, once they become material,” Airtel CEO and joint MD Manoj Kohli said recently.
Posted in Bharti Airtel, BIG TV, Dish TV, Government, Statutory And Regulatory, Tata Sky | Tagged: Airtel, Bharti, Bharti Telemedia, BIG TV, Dish TV, DTH, FIPB, Government, Investment, Manoj Kohli, SingTel, Sun Direct, Tata Sky, Vodafone | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 17, 2009
17 Jun 2009, 0302 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: The communications ministry has sought an allotment of Rs 3,000 crore from the finance ministry for supporting BSNL’s wireline networks that were set up before April 2002. The DoT wants the amount to be sanctioned in the budget.
This is to compensate the state-owned telco for losses during the last fiscal after telecom regulator Trai had done away with access deficit charge regime from April 1, 2008. Prior to that, all telcos were paying 0.75% of total revenues towards ADC, which was used to support BSNL’s unviable fixedline operations in rural India. In 2007-08, BSNL got Rs 2,000 crore as ADC.
But, when hanging up on ADC, the regulator in a bid to address the concerns of BSNL , which had warned that it would be forced to discontinue all its rural fixed-line operations if the levy were to go, recommended that the government give it a subsidy of Rs 2,000 crore per annum for the next three years from the Universal Obligation Fund (USOF).
All telcos pay 5% of total revenues towards the USOF, which is dedicated to improving communication facilities in rural India. Unutilised amount in the USOF is at over Rs 20,000 crore. In March 2009, BSNL and DoT had signed an MoU to provide the state-owned operator a subsidy of Rs 6,000 core over the next three years from this fund to sustain its rural operations.
In fact, BSNL had even dragged the regulator to the telecom tribunal, but the latter refused to issue a stay on the matter. Trai had however, justified its move to do away with the ADC regime on the grounds that the total support provided to BSNL over the last couple of years under various initiatives which includes reimbursement of licence fee and spectrum charges, moratorium on payment of interest, support from Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF), ADC funding and exemption on entry fee was about $8 billion (Rs 31,500 crore), while adding that the PSU cannot be supported in perpetuity.
In a bid to give further relief to BSNL, last year, DoT also exempted telcos from paying licence fee on fixedline telephony from licence fee enabling the state-owned operator to save Rs 1,200 crore annually.
via DoT seeks Rs 3000 cr support for BSNL- Telecom-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times.
Posted in BSNL, Government, Govt Financials, Tariff, TRAI | Tagged: ADC, BSNL, DoT, Government, revenue, rural, USOF | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 17, 2009
17 Jun 2009, 0702 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip & Sandeep Gurumurthi, ET Now
The wait for additional airwaves, key for mobile operators to expand their customer base, has just got longer, with the telecom ministry deciding to make any decision on this only after the upcoming auction of third-generation spectrum, according to a top official in the department of telecom (DoT).
Communications minister A Raja and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met twice on Tuesday, but were unable to reach a consensus on key issues related to 3G auctions such as the base price for these radio frequencies as well as the number of players to be allowed to offer these high-end services.
“No consensus as of now on the base price. We discussed various suggestions — whether we should go for uniform base price or opt for differential pricing, according to circle, depending upon commercial viability of that area,” Mr Raja told reporters after his second meeting with Mr Mukherjee.
As a fallout, the telecom ministry has decided that it will take a call on all issues related with second-generation spectrum, the airwaves on which all mobile services are offered at present, including the methodology for future allocations, the pricing for this scarce resource and the usage charges for utilising these airwaves only after the upcoming auctions of third generation spectrum, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The ministries are divided over the base price for the 3G auctions with DoT proposing a reserve price of Rs 2,020 crore for pan-India 3G spectrum and the finance ministry wanting it to be doubled. DoT has said it is open to hiking the reserve price to Rs 3,540 crore as a compromise.
The two ministers said for the first time that they were willing to look at a differential pricing formula to arrive at a base price for 3G auctions, vital for high-end services such as video conferencing and high-speed internet on the mobiles.
Industry analysts, however, say using a new formula to arrive at differential pricing for each circle will be a time-consuming process that will further delay the 3G auctions.
The development implies that existing telcos will not get 2G spectrum till the issue is settled. Now, they will have to invest heavily on infrastructure to ensure that the quality of services do not deteriorate.
At present, all telecom services are offered on 2G spectrum and these airwaves have been given to telcos based on their subscriber numbers. Put simply, additional radio frequencies are dished out as telcos as they add more subscribers. Currently, India follows a controversial practice of allocating spectrum based on companies’ subscriber base, and is the only country in the world that follows this method.
There are two key factors that have led to the communications ministry deciding to stop all 2G allocations until the completion of 3G auctions.
First, the spectrum panel in its report submitted last month had said the country should adopt the internationally-accepted auction system for issuing additional 2G airwaves to telcos. This committee, consisting of academicians, industry representatives, government officers and industry representatives, had suggested that the 2G pricing be market-linked and be related to the auction price of 3G spectrum.
Second, the committee had also suggested that all telcos who hold radio frequencies beyond the 6.2 MHz mark be charged a one-time fee for all the extra radio frequencies they hold, while adding that this one-time fee be calculated based on the 3G auction price.
The communications ministry can act on these recommendations only after the 3G auctions take place.
The larger implication is that all telcos will have to shell out huge amounts, both for the excess 2G radio frequencies they hold as well as for all additional allocations in the future.
Additionally, DoT’s move to freeze all 2G allocations is also set to impact all telcos. For instance, India’s largest telco, Bharti Airtel, is awaiting additional spectrum allotment of 1 MHz each in five circles.
Reliance Communications, which has start-up spectrum in all 22 circles in the country, is now eligible for the next tranche in six circles as it has reached the prescribed subscriber numbers in these areas. Other telcos such as Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular too are awaiting additional spectrum in several circles.
With no airwaves allotments over the next couple of months, these operators will have to spend significant amounts in setting up new cellsites. Analysts say for most operators, it is, therefore, a tradeoff between increased capex and allowing the quality of services to deteriorate on account of the spectrum crunch.
This is because it is technically possible to have increased number of subscribers using the same amount of radio frequencies, provided operators spend significant amounts in building more base stations and subscribing to the latest technological innovations.
It is not just the large players that are impacted by the latest policy logjam. The government’s move to put all allocations on hold will also pinch small players and new entrants like Datacom, Unitech Wireless
and Swan Telecom, who are awaiting start-up spectrum in many regions.
Posted in Bharti Airtel, Datacom, Govt Financials, Reliance Communication, Spectrum, Swan, Unitech, Vodafone Essar | Tagged: 2G, 3G, A Raja, Airtel, Bharti, DoT, Government, Idea, Internet, Reliance Communications, Spectrum, Swan, Unitech, Vodafone | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 16, 2009
From The Hindustan Times on June 16, 2009
No consensus has been reached between the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the finance ministry on the reserve price for third generation (3G) radio waves auction, Communications Minister A Raja said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Raja, who met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday in New Delhi to discuss issues related to 3G spectrum auction, told reporters that the reserve price matter would be discussed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The final decision will be taken by the Group of Ministers (GoM) and the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, he added.
The DoT plans to auction radio frequencies for the country’s 20 of 22 telecom service areas.
The process has been delayed a number of times after the finance ministry suggested that the starting auction price of Rs.2,020 crore be doubled.
via No consensus on 3G reserve price: Raja- Hindustan Times.
Posted in Government, Spectrum | Tagged: 3G, A Raja, communications ministry, DoT, Government, PMO, Spectrum | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 16, 2009
Raja expects minimum Rs 25,000 cr from 3G, BWA spectrum bids
From http://www.economictimes.com on 16 Jun 2009, 1617 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Telecom Minister A Raja on Tuesday said that he expects revenue of at least Rs 25,000 crore from the auction of radio waves for third generation (3G) mobile, broadband and wireless services.
Raja, who met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, said his department had assured the government of an early service rollout.
“In connection with the 3G and WiMAX auctions, we assured (the Finance Minister) of an early rollout, an early auction and more revenue for the government,” Raja told reporters after meeting Mukherjee earlier today.
Raja’s estimate is lower than what (Rs 30,000 crore) the government had forecast last year when the 3G auction process was announced.
Raja meets Mukherjee again in the evening seeking clarity on the number of licences to be auctioned and the reserve price to be set. DoT officials will also be there to discuss the issue with their counterparts in the Finance Ministry.
DoT plans to auction frequency for 20 of India’s 22 telecom service areas. The exercise has been delayed after the Finance Ministry suggested that the starting auction price of Rs 2,020 crore be doubled.
via Raja expects minimum Rs 25,000 cr from 3G, BWA spectrum bids- Telecom-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times.
Posted in Government, Govt Financials, Spectrum | Tagged: 3G, A Raja, communications ministry, DoT, Government, WiMAX | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 16, 2009
By Sharath Kumar on http://www.ciol.com on June 16, 2009
BANGALORE, INDIA: The GSM Association, a global trade group for mobile industry consisting of about 750 mobile operators, has welcomed the Indian Defence Ministry’s move to release 45 MHz of wireless radio spectrum. The move will serve to accelerate the development of the Indian telecom market, and speed up India’s march towards mobile broadband for all its consumers, the trade group said.
The association has been demanding that the government must allocate the 2.1 GHz spectrum to drive the deployment of mobile broadband across India. The GSMA is of the view that the planning phase for the allocation of 2.6 GHz spectrum must also start now if HSPA is to evolve for the benefit of the Indian population.
In an email reply to CIOL, the association senior director Jaikishan Rajaraman stated that it is a well-known fact that congestion on 2G networks has been the bane of Indian operators for quite some time now, especially in the urban centres.
Quoting Bharti numbers, which serves 100 million customers with 11 MHz, Rajaraman said the availability of more 2G spectrum goes a long way towards addressing that critical need.
Also, it is significant that the majority of the newly available spectrum will be for 3G, especially in the immediate term.
“This creates a lot of investor confidence that the government is serious about its promise to allocate 3G spectrum via auction this year, and that 3G services will become the centerpiece of Indian telecoms in the coming years,” he opined.
“There is much to be optimistic about, and if the newly available spectrum bands are managed carefully according to international standards, it sets in place a system of continuity which will be welcome news to the Indian operators.”
In Rajaraman’s view the phased approach is understandable given the complexities of the Indian military having to vacate a sizable chunk of spectrum. “However, we don’t believe this will slow down 3G service roll out to consumers in the short term.”
He added that this is because the simultaneous availability of 2G spectrum has allayed the concerns of operators and consumers alike that precious 3G spectrum will be used to offload congested 2G voice instead of being used for data services and mobile broadband.
As a long-term strategy, the government must keep in mind that with increased data usage and ever more subscribers using mobile broadband, there is a need to identify and set aside additional spectrum in advance for 3G services.
The GSM Association has recently demanded speeding up of the 3G auction. According to the recently published McKinsey report the delay has resulted in a $16 billion loss to the economy.
Quoting the recent McKinsey report the association has stated that once the licenses are issued and $20 billion invested over a period of five years, it can deliver $70 billion economic benefit in the same period.
See also: Indian defence loosens hold on spectrum at
Posted in GSMA, Spectrum | Tagged: 2G, 3G, Airtel, Bharti, Broadband, Defe, Defence, Government, GSMA, HSPA, Jaikishan Rajaraman, Spectrum | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 12, 2009
12 Jun 2009, 0126 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip & Sandeep Gurumurthi, ET Now
NEW DELHI: The communications ministry is set to tell the Union Cabinet that it is open to increasing the reserve price for the auctions of pan-India third generation (3G) spectrum to Rs 3,540 crore and auction up to eight slots of 3G spectrum. As per the existing 3G policy unveiled by the communications ministry late last year, the reserve price for pan-India 3G spectrum is Rs 2,020 crore and accommodating five players per circle.
The department of telecom is of the view that hiking the reserve price for these airwaves will ensure that the finance ministry does not put up any fresh roadblocks for the upcoming 3G auctions, which is vital for high-end services such as video conferencing and high speed internet on mobile handsets. Spectrum is the airwaves on which telecom signals travel and is the lifeline for all telcos.
This comes as the Union Cabinet is set to consider the proposal for the auction of radio bandwidth for third-generation (3G) mobile services within the next two weeks, rather than routing it through a group of ministers (GoM), fast-tracking the much-delayed process.
The DoT will also tell the Cabinet that the total number of players who will be allotted 3G spectrum can be raised from the current five to about seven to eight per circle. The move is aimed at addressing the concerns of the finance ministry which fears that a lower base price would result in the government failing to meet its targets of raising about Rs 40,000 crore for these auctions.
Increasing the number of slots will lead to higher revenues from the auctions as this will enable more Indian operators and also players from abroad to bag these airwaves. At the same time, the DoT in its note to the Cabinet will also state that even as it open to hiking the reserve price, it prefers to retain the base price at 2,020 crore as specified under the existing 3G policy.
The DoT’s logic behind the Rs 3,540 crore figure is that it is between the Rs 2,020 crore suggested by the DoT and the and the Rs 4,040 crore demanded by the finance Ministry. The DoT has arrived at this figure (Rs 3,540 crore) by doubling the reserve price for Delhi, Mumbai and category A circles and increasing it 1.5 times for Kolkata and category B circles retaining the current base price for category C circles, according to a top executive in the communications ministry.
As per the 3G policy, the base price for metros and category A circles such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra is Rs 160 crore, while that for category B circles is 80 crore and Rs 30 crore for Category C regions totalling up to Rs 2,020 crore. The cabinet may look into the proposal within two weeks, communications and IT minister A Raja had told ET on Wednesday after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The communications ministry has already prepared a Cabinet note detailing all issues associated with the 3G auctions. We plan to present this note to the Cabinet soon,” Mr Raja had added.
If the Cabinet approves the ministry’s proposal in its current format, the 3G auctions will be held within three months, opening the gates for high-end services such as video-conferencing and high speed internet on mobile handsets. On the other hand, routing the process through a GoM would involve a delay of several months since there will have to be a consensus between all ministers of the group before it can be sent to the Cabinet.
Earlier this year, the communications ministry had sought Cabinet approval for 3G auctions, but the latter could not clear the same as the finance ministry had objected to this proposal and demanded that the floor price be doubled. Further, differences between several ministries over the floor price for the auction of 3G airwaves and also over the number of players to be allowed to offer these high-end services in an area had forced the Cabinet to refer the matter to a group of ministers just prior to the general elections.
The auctions could not be held prior to the polls as GoM failed to meet to find a solution to these issues. In fact, the GoM did not even meet once to discuss the 3G auctions. The issue then got further complicated as the planning commission, the department of industrial policy and promotion and the IT ministry opposed doubling of the base price.
Related stories at:
Posted in Spectrum | Tagged: 3G, A Raja, Broadband, communications ministry, DoT, Government, Internet, Spectrum | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 11, 2009
Source PTI, From Hindustan Times on 11 June 2009
Setting the ball rolling for 3G mobile telephony, Telecom and IT Minister A Raja today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed the agenda for launching the much-awaited services and auction of spectrum.
Official sources said that Raja met Singh in the morning and briefed him about the ongoing issues, including roll-out of 3G and wireless broadband (Wimax) services.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has to decide on the reserve price for spectrum as it had differences with Finance Ministry. The matter may be taken directly to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) or will be referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM).
DoT had proposed a reserve price of Rs 2,020 crore for an all-India spectrum of five MHz, while the Finance Ministry had pegged it at around Rs 4,040 crore.
Asked whether the reserve price of spectrum came up for discussion between Raja and Singh, sources said the minister mentioned about the number of players to be considered for 3G in the first round of auction of spectrum and its pricing.
Raja had earlier told PTI that he would like to start the process of auctioning of spectrum within three months and roll out the services by the end of this calendar year.
3G allows users access to high-speed data and voice services. State-run BSNL and MTNL are the only two operators to offer this next generation service in the country, while private players are awaiting spectrum to be apportioned.
Related stories at
Posted in Spectrum | Tagged: 3G, A Raja, “communications ministry”, Broadband, BSNL, DoT, Government, MTNL, PMO, Spectrum, Wireless | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 11, 2009
11 Jun 2009, 2256 hrs IST, PTI on www.economictimes.com
NEW DELHI: Differences over the 3G spectrum auction reserve price between the the Department of Telecom and the finance ministry is being sorted out to push the bidding in a faster pace.
“We are yet to arrive at the exact bid price but it could be between Rs 2,020 crore-Rs 4,040 crore, the two respective reserve prices quoted by DoT and the finance ministry respectively,” a senior DoT official said.
Market conditions are gradually improving. We will settle at a price which is acceptable to both the ministries, which could be about Rs 3,000 crore but the Cabinet has to give its approval for the rate, said the official.
The government plans to get Rs 30,000 crore upwards out of the 3G spectrum auction.
There is a good possibility, if everything woks out as per schedule drawn by the Department, that the auction could kick off in September-end or early October, said the official.
Since we had approached Cabinet once and it is a major policy decision, we will take it up to the Cabinet again, he said.
Telecom Minister A Raja had earlier said 3G services would start by the end of this year.
Posted in Spectrum | Tagged: 3G, A Raja, communications ministry, DoT, Government, Spectrum | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 9, 2009
9 Jun 2009, 0019 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: Vodafone Essar’s plan to hive off its signal towers and telecom network-related infrastructure arm to companies in Mauritius has run into rough weather for the second time after a government agency flagged the vexed issue of using a tax haven for such deals.
The Department of International Taxation (DIT) in Mumbai, the government agency that examines cross-border deals, has said in its interim report that the Vodafone Essar plan seeks to route funds in a way to take advantage of the India–Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).
According to the provisions of DTAA, Mauritius-based entities are exempt from paying capital gains tax in both countries.
After DIT’s interim report, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has yet again deferred Vodafone Essar’s proposal on Ortus Infratel and Holdings.
This is the second time a government agency has opposed Vodafone Essar’s plan. In April, the revenue department under the finance ministry had said the proposed investment in the new company through Mauritius would result in ‘round tripping’.
The revenue department had referred the matter to DIT, which has again stated in its interim report that ‘the possibility of round tripping cannot be eliminated’.
In response to a detailed query sent by ET, Vodafone said the company cannot comment on the observations of either DIT or the revenue department.
In its interim report to FIPB, DIT has said the two Mauritius entities were mere holding companies with a share capital of just $100. It added that the telco has not furnished the source of funds for both Vodafone Tower and Essar Infratel despite repeated reminders. But a person close to Vodafone Essar, who wished to remain anonymous, said the source of funds for both these companies have been provided to DIT.
Posted in Govt Financials, Other Infrastructure, Carriers and Logistics, Statutory And Regulatory, Vodafone Essar | Tagged: Essar Infratel, Government, Ortus Infratel And Holdings, Vodafone, Vodafone Tower | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 8, 2009
8 Jun 2009, 0004 hrs IST, PTI on www.economictimes.com
NEW YORK: Nearly two years after it sold its Indian telecom business to British giant Vodafone, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom International has warned of possible tax and other obligatory payments in connection
with the deal.
“We may be subject to claims or have to make payments as a result of warranty, indemnity or other obligations assumed in connection with the sale of interests relating to CGP investments holdings to a subsidiary of Vodafone Group, or Vodafone, in May 2007,” the US-listed HTIL said in a regulatory filing here.
Under the deal, HTIL had sold its majority 52% stake, held through Cayman Island-based CGP Investments Holdings, in Indian telecom venture Hutch-Essar to Vodafone for over $11 billion. Hutch-Essar was later renamed as Vodafone Essar. HTIL, in its annual report filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), further said that ”the Indian tax authorities may consider the gain arising from this sale to be taxable in India. “The Indian tax authorities have initiated an investigation into Vodafone’s obligations to withhold tax from the acquisition proceeds.”
The Hong Kong-based firm, which is part of billionaire Li Ka-shing-led Hutchison Group, said that it has “received legal advice and believe that the sale is not taxable in India, and therefore, no Indian tax is payable by us.”
“Accordingly, we have not provided for any claims or Indian tax liabilities in connection with the sale. However, there can be no assurance what the final outcome will be. If we eventually make any such payments or suffer any Indian tax on this sale, it may have a material adverse effect on our financial position and results of operations,” it noted.
Htil completed the sale in May 2007 to Vodafone for cash consideration of $11,074 million before costs, expenses and interest payable by Vodafone, plus the assumption of $2 billion of net debt.
Posted in Government, Service Providers Internals, Vodafone Essar | Tagged: Government, Hutchison, Vodafone | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 8, 2009
From www.ciol.com on June 8, 2009
NEW DELHI, INDIA: India’s defence ministry has agreed to release 45 MHz of wireless radio spectrum, the Business Standard reported, a move that will help fast-growing mobile telecoms firms reeling under shortage of radio waves.
The defence ministry had signed an accord with the telecoms ministry to immediately release 10 MHz spectrum for third-generation (3G) mobile services and 5 MHz for the dominant 2G services.
The remaining would come in a phased manner, taking the total to 25 MHz for 3G and remainder for 2G, according to timelines agreed by the two ministries, it said, without saying where it got the information from.
A spokesman for the telecom ministry could not be immediately reached.
Separately, the Mint newspaper, quoting an unnamed telecoms ministry official, said defence forces had agreed to free up spectrum over the next three years in a phased manner. It did not say how much spectrum they would vacate.
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Posted in Spectrum | Tagged: 3G, communications ministry, Defence, DoT, Government, Spectrum | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 7, 2009
7 Jun 2009, 1242 hrs IST, PTI on www.economictimes.com
NEW DELHI: The government is keen to divest its holding in another telecom PSU — Telecom Consultants India Ltd — along with BSNL, whose management has been asked to start talks with the employee unions.
“Divesting equity of government holding in TCIL through Initial Public Offer (IPO) route and listing of its shares on stock exchange,” was one of the agenda discussed internally by the new government.
TCIL, which also holds 30 per cent stake in Rajasthan mobile operations controlled by Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Airtel, is believed to be keen on divesting its stake in the Rajasthan circle.
A Cabinet note has already been prepared for divesting TCIL’s stake in Bharti-Hexacom (a joint venture for Rajsthan operations) and a decision is expected soon.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had earlier proposed to invite market bids for TCIL’s 30 per cent stake in Bharti- Hexacom and also Bharti had evinced interest in buying TCIL’s holding.
On BSNL, the note said the agenda is sale of government holding in the company through IPO route and listing of BSNL shares on the stock exchange.
Other than these two, DoT is looking to go for divestment of its shares in another PSU — the loss-making equipment vendor ITI where it has already invited Expression of Interests from the prospective bidders.
Posted in Bharti Airtel, Government, Joint Venture | Tagged: Airtel, Bharti, Bharti Hexacom, BSNL, disinvestment, DoT, Government, ITI, TCIL | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 5, 2009
The Hindu Business Line on June 5, 2009
New Delhi, June 4 The Department of Telecom has decided to change the auditor appointed to examine the account books of Tata Teleservices.
The auditor was appointed to check if the company was paying all the fees and levies as per DoT norms.
The auditor is being changed after it was declared by the company that there was an existing relationship with Tata Group as a consultant.
DoT has sought a fresh list of approved accountants from the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Posted in Statutory And Regulatory, Tata Teleservices | Tagged: "Tata Teleservices", DoT, Government, TTSL | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 5, 2009
5 Jun 2009, 0101 hrs IST, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: The government plans to connect every panchayat to a broadband network in the next three years and increase phone usage in rural India four-fold in five years, so that two out of every five villagers own phones, President Pratibha Patil told Parliament on Thursday. The measures will be part the Bharat Nirman programme for improving infrastructure in villages.
As of April end, rural India, which houses more than two-thirds of India’s population, had less than one-third of the country’s 430 million telephone connections.
The plans to improve rural connectivity will most certainly result in increased allocation from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for setting up telecom infrastructure in interior India.
Since 2002, all telecom operators have been paying 5% of their annual revenues towards this fund and so far, the unutilised amount in this fund has crossed the Rs 25,000 crore. The communications ministry will soon invite bids for setting up over 7,000 telecom towers in rural areas with support from the USOF.
The new government also plans to use a part of this fund for augmentation of the optic fibre cable network across the country to enhance broadband connectivity. Interestingly, India’s booming mobile phone industry is attracting more new users in rural areas.
Posted in Government, Other Infrastructure, Carriers and Logistics | Tagged: Government, Infrastructure, OFC, Pratibha Patil, rural, USOF | Leave a Comment »
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 3, 2009
3 Jun 2009, 0223 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: India’s largest telecom firm BSNL will invite fresh tenders to run its WiMax operations
, after the previous attempt was aborted in light of dubious operators making it to the final shortlist. The state-run firm will now seek fresh bids for franchisees across the country to roll out technology that allows users wireless access to high-speed internet and other data applications
over a large area, according to two top executives of the company. BSNL expects WiMax to generate multi-billion dollar revenues over the next 10 years.
ET had reported on February 20 that a string of ‘shell’ companies that exist only on paper had made it to BSNL shortlist for WiMax.
The telco subsequently cancelled the tender after its own investigations revealed that five of the six shortlisted companies — WiExpert Communications, SV Telecom Systems, Digitelco Communications,
Spectrus Communications and Technotial Infoways — were acting as ‘fronts’ for certain individuals.
It was found that these companies shared the same corporate details, notaries, auditors and dates of incorporation, and even their last annual general body meeting was shown to be held on the same day.
BSNL came under pressure from its labour unions to scrap the tender following reports of wide-scale corruption in the methodologies adopted to shortlist successful bidders. Doubts were also raised on the disqualification of several companies with proven track record of offering WiMax services including Soma Networks, Cisco-backed Terracom, Unwire India and Welcomm Communications — it had a tie-up Huawei and Aricent — in the earlier shortlist.
This has strengthened the allegations of a possible scandal especially since BSNL had failed to provide valid reasons for the disqualification. During the recent election campaign, opposition BJP had alleged that five of the six shortlisted companies were promoted by telecom minister A Raja’s confidant Sanjay Kapoor and had sought a CBI probe into the issue.
“BJP demands that allotment of BSNL’s WiMax franchise should be suspended immediately and the telecom minister be sacked as reports suggest wholesale loot and corruption in the process,” party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar had said during a press conference
in Delhi on May 6.
Earlier this year, the WiMAX Forum, an industry association that has more than 530 member companies globally and 50 members in India had warned BSNL that companies existing only on paper are exploiting lax eligibility criteria for bids invited by the telco for franchisee operators for its WiMax services.
The Forum had also alleged that these newly floated front companies have approached global majors to buy them out quoting BSNL’s spectrum and network assets as valuation criteria. “This is a result of the lax eligibility conditions in the tender which these paper companies are exploiting,” the association had said.
Posted in Spectrum | Tagged: A Raja, Aricent, BSNL, Cisco, Digitelco, Government, Huawei, Soma Networks, Spectrus, SV Telecom, Technotial Infoways, Terracom, Unwire India, Welcomm, WiExpert, WiMAX | Leave a Comment »